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Hampshire council wants legal powers to make sure new-build homes have superfast broadband

Monday, June 15th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The government is being asked to give councils the power to insist new-build homes have access to high speed broadband.

Hampshire County Council wants local authorities to be given clear legal powers to demand new developments have access to superfast speeds as part of the planning process.

The council wants house buyers to be given more information about what broadband services are available at a property.

It is going to start publishing a list of which new housing sites are looking at providing superfast broadband, and is recommending that internet speeds are checked as a required part of house purchases.

Earlier this year, digital minister Ed Vaizey and housing minister Brandon Lewis urged councils to consider whether new-builds have access to superfast broadband when considering planning applications.

And councils including Cheltenham Borough and Chester East have started putting policies in place to ensure that broadband access is considered as part of the planning process.

Hampshire County Council wants every home in the county to have access to good internet speeds, which it said are regarded by home buyers as a fourth utility.

The authority set out its aims at a seminar for housing developers, industry representatives and others involved in the sale of properties.

'Residents would benefit'

Leader Roy Perry said: “This seminar was a great success, as it brought together developers and providers in the same room, to discuss collaboration on future developments.

“It is from these early conversations that developers will be able to evaluate how superfast broadband can be installed and provided to home buyers.

“With over 450 housing developments of all sizes in the pipeline, the county council believes that developers, as well as residents would benefit if superfast broadband was widely available at new sites.”

Councillor Perry said developers are taking steps in the right direction but the council wants to see this happen at a faster pace.

“Therefore, we will encourage infrastructure providers to work with developers to ensure these services are there to meet public demand,” he said.

Hampshire's Superfast Broadband programme is well underway, and aims to see at least 95% of the county's existing premises access broadband speeds of over 24Mbps by 2018.

But with more than 25,000 new homes planned in the county in the next five years, the council is keen to see superfast broadband offered in new homes as standard.

It is also looking to retrofit new developments that are already or recently built, as well as those which are yet to be completed and not part of Hampshire’s multi-million pound rural superfast programme.

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